I’m working on my book about how to lower cholesterol – naturally. Thus I’m trying to focus on anything and everything that can play a role in actively helping us to prevent high cholesterol, but also in effectively reducing it – if/when we are diagnosed with it. The main issues in the book are exercise and food, but also includes topics on emotional health, stress, and sleep, all of which affect cholesterol levels. Foods can harm us or nourish us. Food can help us to stay strong, happy, healthy, and naturally lower our cholesterol. But, there are certain foods that can create havoc on our health – especially if we have them in excess. Processed foods, which contain a lot of hidden additives, including sugar and salt, are the worst.
One of these really bad additives is white sugar. This stuff is a real killer. The bad and sad truth is a lot of our food is designed by the industry to get us hooked. By adding too much sugar, too much salt, MSG etc., the industry literally “pushes” food types to us and we become addicted to these things (their intention being, of course, that we buy and consume more of the same!).
I remember that when I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol I would very conscientiously examine the food value stickers and to assure myself that there was little or no cholesterol. If it said zero, I thought I was safe! However, I didn’t consider sugar, and especially the white, refined kind, is not only a contributing factor to obesity, diabetes, but a big trouble maker, when it comes to heart disease and the unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
According to WebMD & the American Medical Association, a study showed that people who consumed the highest levels of sugar had the lowest HDL (the good cholesterol) and the highest triglyceride levels. People who ate the least amount of sugar had the highest HDL (good cholesterol) and the lowest levels of triglyceride! As well, it showed that eating large amounts of sugar more than tripled the risk of heart disease.
As a consequence of these findings, a global campaign has been started: www.actiononsugar.org aimed at trying to reduce sugar intake by calling it the new tobacco …. this is to try, just like was done with fat, to lobby to reduce the amount of hidden sugar in processed foods.
I can only applaud that, but at the same time I think that it would be easier to simply move away from eating sugar and toward eating more clean food. By clean food, I mean food that has not been processed, food such as vegetable, fruits, grains, legumes, leafy greens, etc.
By eating clean, we feed and nourish the body with real food. And when the body gets what it needs, it stops craving the wrong kind of food like: cookies, cream cakes and smarties.
As my diet changed and I was eating more green food I experienced so many benefits, such as loosing weight and feeling energized. I found that things like cookies, cakes and candy; things that I had been raised to enjoy, all of a sudden tasted way too sweet and I no longer enjoyed eating them. It was the same with salty foods, like certain cheeses and even some kinds of olives, they simply tasted almost unbearably salty. So, as my tastes changed, I naturally stopped eating these thing or eating less of them.
Today we can get bacon with less salt, soups and stocks with less salt – and hopefully soon we will see food products with less sugar.
But – why wait? Do it yourself!
All of this is really great, but how about eating fewer processed foods all together! Then, instead, add more plant-based foods, you will reduce your sugar intake in a heart beat.
Good sugar / bad sugar?
But how about the sugar in fruit? I found an answer to that in an interesting article in The Globe and Mail: “Sugar is the new tobacco“, wherein Dr. Robert Lustig, an neuroendocrinologist and obesity expert explained how the body processes sugar calories in a way that is much more damaging than, say, a protein calorie. However, the sugar calories contained in fruits, with its vitamins, minerals, fibre and micronutrients intact, is broken down more slowly and causes much less impact on blood sugar, as well as liver processes. He states:
“Sugar in excess is a toxin, unrelated to it’s calories. The dose determines the poison. Like alcohol, a little sugar is fine, but a lot is not. And the food industry has put us way over our limit” – Dr Robert Lustig
To consume less refined sugar, try to:
- Eat less processed foods
- Prepare home cooked meals, make you own cakes and cookies – then you know exactly how much sugar goes in. As well, you can choose the healthier kinds of sugar.
- Say good-bye! to white sugar.
- Eat more plant-based foods.
- Try to replace (most of your) cakes and cookies with delicious raw food options – like this or these.….
- Drink greens smoothies like these.
- Enjoy dates and figs, if you crave something sweet
It’s possible to do so much yourself and remember, even little changes can make a big difference!
Do you want to know how I lowered my hereditary cholesterol naturally? – Read here.
This is all so true, Anne! I only eat coconut usgar & sometimes, 1x/month a bit of pure maple syrup grade C! I am trying to eat stevia but I really don’t like it that miuch! I love dates from time to time, but they are way too sweet for me!
Dear Sophie – yes, there are so many sweet options, when it comes to replacing white sugar 🙂
Great, and very informative post, Anne. I have become much more careful about sugar, over the past few years. I’m glad fruit is okay, as I love it. 🙂
Yes, me too – so happy about the fruit 🙂
Thanks for sharing the reality of sugar my friend! i never realised just how bad processed sugar could be – I try to use coconut sugar and maple flavouring when I am not baking for large parties 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
Dear Uru – thank you!
I had no idea sugar was connected to high cholesterol! Yet ANOTHER reason to kick the habit. And – wow! – can’t wait for your book, Anne! Bravo!
Thank you Annie for your support, it means the world 🙂 XXX
If everyone cut back on the amount of processed food they are consuming and cooked more meals from scratch, they would be a lot healthier.
Karen – Amen to that! 🙂
It is always good to remind yourself of how much control you can have over your life and health. Hope you are well, Anne. xx
Thank you Paula – yes it’s true, there is so much we can do ourselves – to stay strong and healthy! XXX